Tests and Diagnosis of Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis may develop without any symptoms for quite a long time, but modern examination techniques help detect this condition at its early stages. The diagnosis is made by a therapist or cardiologist based on the data obtained from a patient survey and various tests.
Diagnosis and detection of atherosclerosis. The signs that may help include:
- Weak, or even absent, pulse below the narrowed part of the artery;
- Whistling sound (noises) in the area of the artery which can be heard with the help of stethoscope;
- Decrease in blood pressure detected in the affected extremity;
- Poor wound healing is observed in the area where the blood flow is restricted.
The diagnostic tests include:
- Blood test – helps detect elevated levels of blood cholesteroland blood sugar which raise the risk of atherosclerosis;
- Doppler ultrasound – A doctor, with the help of an ultrasound device, measures the blood pressure in different parts of the arm and leg. This test helps evaluate the speed of the blood flow and the narrowness of the vessels;
- Ankle-brachial index test – doctor measures blood pressure in the ankle and in the shoulder. Comparison of these indicators makes it possible to evaluate the blood flow of the extremities;
- ECG – electrocardiogram helps detect heart rhythm disturbances, find damaged areas, as well as those with inadequate blood supply to the muscle tissue, and also detects possible enlargement of the heart;
- Stress test – the results of this test help detect the lowering of blood circulation in the arteries of the heart;
- Angiography – an invasive X-ray method aimed at the examination of the heart, aorta, pulmonary artery, coronary and other arteries. It detects the localization of the stenosis, and allows visualization of atherosclerotic plaques;
- Intravascular magnetic resonance imaging – a modern technique that makes use of computed tomography to specify the character of the vascular wall involvement.
Next chapter: Treatment and prevention of Atherosclerosis